The Hardest Stage
Knowing this was one of the most beautiful and inspiring things I read, I also knew it should be featured in my May, "the month of the Mother,” blog.
Don’t let all the “mom” things in here keep you from reading if you don’t think you can relate. Because, while seemingly about motherhood, it’s a piece about finding beauty in the ugliest of moments, laughing in those times you just want to fall to pieces, and recognizing the utter magnificence of the stories our body tells.
Every “knot-in-the-throat” inducing word was written by one of my best friends, a beautiful soul God brought to me in high school and considers me either worthy enough to keep or in dire need of having in my life.
A BRIEF AND SHOCKING BACKSTORY:
She found out she was pregnant 2 days after her husband left her (and their 3 other children) for someone he’d met online.
Just typing that sentence puts me back 12 years ago in the moment of fury and unimaginable heartache for my best friend who was facing a pain and betrayal beyond my belief and comprehension. And like my other best friends (my Yayas) from high school, she steals my breath with her strength – a strength she doesn’t feel she possesses.
It is I who doesn’t feel worthy to be in the company of someone so brave and strong and faithful. But I’ve been gifted this model in my life; and in this piece I get to share her with you.
It captures her essence beautifully. And in reading this, you’ll see yet another bit of evidence in my life of the examples I’ve had that motivated me in the direction of the Xenia Box mission and continues to inspire our purpose.
Thank you, Tessa, for the honor of not only sharing this but also being such a bright and guiding light in my life. <3
“EVERY STAGE IS HARD, LADIES.” ~ Tessa
Lately I've been seeing lots of posts from dear friends about how the stage of life they're in is so hard. Mostly I see it from my sweet friends who are lovely young mothers, but also from friends my age. And while I definitely don't want to minimize how they feel in any way, articles saying how bad we women have it always rub me the wrong way.
Granted, I'm only 42, I've just entered the stage where hormone-fueled teenagers collide with the peri-menopausal hormone roller coaster that I'm riding. I realize there are still many "hardest stage of my life" stages I'll have the joy of experiencing. But I'm a firm believer that the moments of most profound beauty are usually found right in the middle of the ugliest times.
And if we focus on the backdrop of our difficulties instead of those beautiful little gems, we will end up as insane as those little people living in our homes!
And unhappy, we'll be unhappy; and life's just too short for that.
Every stage is hard, ladies.
That stage when I had 4 miscarriages in 5 years and thought I'd never be a mother? Hard.
The stage of having a baby who never slept, while suffering from horrible morning sickness with baby #2, and having a husband deployed to Iraq for 18 months? Hard.
Finding out you are expecting baby #4 two days after that husband tells you he's leaving you to move to Alaska with the Eskiho (my word, not his. He's not that clever) he met online? For real hard, y'all.
But even in THAT moment, crying in my bathtub because it was the only place I could be alone, (and even then there were little fingers peeking under the door, and little fists knocking, and little voices yelling, "Mama! Mamamamama! Maaaaaaama!!") even in that moment, I had the clearest knowledge (I think I heard a voice, y'all) that even if I didn't know what to do about anything else, I knew how to be a mom. I could do that.
So here's my advice when you're in one of the hardest stages of motherhood (My best friends will find it hilarious that I think I'm capable of giving out any type of mental health advice):
- Lighten up! Laugh a little! Because, y'all, there's some funny shit happening in my house every day; and I'm sure the same is true at your house, as well. When some well-meaning mom calls to tell you your 12 year old son was spotted kissing a girl behind a tree, take a moment to realize that "Damn, my 12 year old is getting more action than me." Then laugh.
- Think more about the awesome things your body can do, than how it looks. There's a multi-billion dollar industry that depends on you thinking you are ugly. When you're washing the 14th load of dishes in a day, and you get a glimpse of your hands and you think "WTF happened to my hands??" I want you to notice how much they look like your mother's hands when she felt for a fever, and your grandmother's hands when she was stirring the gumbo, and your great-grandmother's hands when she tucked you in REALLY tight at night before you fell asleep. Then take a moment to realize how lovely those wrinkled, veiny, crepe-skinned hands are. Feel that love. When you step out of the shower and don't turn away from the mirror quickly enough, take a moment to remind yourself that you kept some human beings ALIVE for MONTHS by making food with those droopy boobs. You kept people alive! Then take a moment to do a quick self-exam and remember our sisters who fought and are still fighting cancer. See that soft, stretch-marked belly with the C-section scar (ok, maybe you can't see it because now you require bifocals and you didn't wear them in the shower)? When I see that, I'm reminded how lucky I am. The evidence of my greatest accomplishment and my greatest joy - my motherhood - is written into my body itself. If I ever succumb to the frequent temptation to run away from this nuthouse, and my lifeless body is found in the woods somewhere because of my poor sense of direction and refusal to own a firearm, I take some comfort in knowing that the medical examiner will know I'm a mother.
- Stop doing one thing you hate to do, and replace it with something you love. I don't care what it is. I've chosen sleep. I'm going to sleep a little more this week.
- Find the beautiful things that are part of your hard stage. Maybe write them down. They are there, I promise.
Finally, my intelligent, funny, lovely mom-friends, I wish you only good things:
I wish you a baby that sleeps a little longer, and a pre-teen daughter that's a little less sassy.
I wish you enough money to stay home with your babies, or to afford really good child care so you can work. Whichever is your joy.
I wish that your husband is your best friend, and is fastidious enough that he helps you clean the house, but not so much so that he makes you feel bad if it's messy. And that he has The Talk with your boys so you don't have to do it.
I wish you the kind of friends who will see all your light on the days you only see your darkness.
And if you're a single mom I wish you a tall, dark, handsome man with an English accent who thinks you are the best thing since tea. It could happen.
And if I could wish you the greatest blessing of all, it would be that you are one day blessed with the joy of a surprise baby (like mine). They are the best!
Tessa M., Facebook Post 10/18/2017
There are so many kinds of moms and mother relationships.
For some this time of year is joyful – basking in the beauty of being a mom or recognizing the gift of their own.
For some, it’s stressful simply feeling the pressure to find the right gift or card that adequately expresses how you feel.
And for others, this time of year is painful. Whether due to the loss of Mom or an intensely strained relationship, that sting is real; and for those of you living this situation my heart and prayers go out to you.